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Report from the Capitol: By State Rep. Rick Jasperse

     We are in week five of the 2024 session. Time has passed pretty quickly, as it does when you’re busy.

            This was a very tough week in the legislature, and in Georgia. We lost one of our state troopers (Jimmy Cenescar # 436 ) in Gwinnett County while on duty apprehending a criminal on the run. We lost three National Guard members from our state in Jordan in a terrorist drone attack at our military base (Sgt. Kennedy Landon Sanders, Staff Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, and Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett), and we lost one of our House members, Richard Smith.

            Richard Smith and I were the only two County Extension agents in the legislature. Richard was elected from Columbus and his current job was Rules chairman. I had the fortune to sit beside him every day in the Rules meeting, because I am the secretary of the Rules Committee. We had great discussions every day about what was going on the legislature, our families, and the world. Needless to say, I’m gonna miss him. He was a real pal.

            Richard would have wanted us to continue our work, and we did. This week the Appropriations Committee members were at work on the final touches on the 2024 Amended Budget; we will vote on that bill this week. Great work has been done on this. You will like it next week, when I report on our work.

            I missed doing an article last week, and the main bill we passed was House Bill 30, which addressed antisemitism in our state and added antisemitism as a category covered by our hate crimes law. Governor Kemp signed that bill this week. It was important to the Jewish community in our state. It passed 132 yes, 32 no votes and 16 didn’t vote (Hummm). There was a lot of discussion on this bill on the House floor.

            House Bill 976 passed almost unanimously to address concerns related to election security. This bill would require all election ballots to be printed on paper that includes a visible watermark security feature, and this visible watermark would identify the ballot as an official Georgia ballot.

            Currently, all ballots have an invisible watermark that is not visible to the human eye, but this bill would ensure that a watermark security feature would be visible to the naked eye.

            A bill many of you have asked about was House Bill 881, better known as the District Attorney Oversight bill. This measure will allow the investigation by a commission. It will give you the ability to ensure a DA does their job as required by law. The bill would clarify that decisions by the PAQC hearing panel are appealable to the superior court of the county or counties in which the DA practices or practiced in. That decision could be immediately appealed to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

            Any of these must still pass the state Senate, and any changes must be agreed on by the House and then signed by the governor.

            When you say your prayers this week, please think of the families of our trooper, National Guard members and Chairman Smith.

            It does get pretty busy in the days ahead. If you are coming to the capitol, please come visit me at my capitol office, or call me if you have any questions or concerns regarding the bills, the legislative process, or any other measures considered under the Gold Dome.

            My capitol office number is 404-656-7153. My email is rick.jasperse@house.ga.gov.

            As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.

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